Morocco recovers 117 rare 400 million year old fossils discovered in Chile

Morocco recovers 117 rare 400 million year old fossils discovered in Chile

Around 117 rare fossils, originating from Morocco and dating back 400 million years, were returned by Chilean authorities to Morocco during a ceremony in Santiago.

These paleontological pieces had been seized by Chilean customs between 2017 and 2022, and were handed over this Monday to the Moroccan ambassador in Santiago, Kenza El Ghali, by Nelida Pozo Kudo, director of the national heritage service of Chile and José Luis Castro Montecinos, deputy director of Chilean customs.

During this ceremony at the National Library of Chile, Pozo Kudo stressed that cooperation between Morocco and Chile covers many areas, including the protection of fossils of great scientific value. She noted that the seizure and return of these fossils clearly illustrate the commitment of the two countries to combat illicit trafficking of cultural property, in accordance with international law.

Irwin Brevis, technical secretary of the National Monuments Council of Chile, expressed his satisfaction at contributing to “the recovery of this 400 million year old heritage”. He added that these fossils date from a period well before the formation of the continents, and therefore before the existence of Chile and Morocco.

Brevis also stressed that cooperation and joint work between institutions and at the international level allowed the restitution of these fossils to Morocco. For his part, the Moroccan ambassador thanked the Chilean authorities for their close cooperation over the past five years with a view to the restitution of this heritage. She declared that “The smuggling of antiquities and fossils is perhaps worse than drug trafficking.”

Furthermore, Kenza El Ghali expressed her joy at seeing these fossils return to Morocco, adding that “nothing is more beautiful than returning to the source”. The Moroccan diplomat also praised the historical ties and sincere friendship between Chile and Morocco, expressing her conviction that these relations have a promising future.

Furthermore, the restitution ceremony was preceded by the signing of a cooperation agreement on documentary heritage between the National Library of the Kingdom of Morocco (BNRM) and the National Library of Chile.